Sunday, July 27, 2014

Xtramath for Math Facts

How do you get your students to memorize math facts?

I'm sure like many teachers you have wanted to bang your head again your desk when it comes to math facts in your classroom.

Trust me...I've been there.

There is no "magical cure" for the problem of students not wanting to do the work required for mastering facts. My school adopted the Rocket Math program. It is required for us to use this program. I did see some improvement with this program, but not much. 

When I came across what finally worked for my classroom, I wasn't actually even looking for them. My own son is ADHD and has a learning disability. Rocket math did (does) not work for him. As you know if you've worked with any ADD student that anything that involves writing is just a slow process for them. He spent an entire year in his classroom never making it off of the letter A.  
I was desperate & my son was frustrated. I just happened to be reading a teacher's blog (I have no idea which one) on a weekend. It listed the top 5 things they couldn't live without & XtraMath was one of them. I was intrigued so I went to XtraMath & watched the video.

I decided to give it a try with my son. I showed him the short student video & then had him try it on our computer at home. He quickly started mastering the facts. He still COULD NOT master his facts using the required RocketMath tests at school, but if I asked him any multiplication fact he knew the answer immediately. Because of Xtramath he mastered his multiplication, addition, and subtraction facts. He's currently working on his division facts. I knew right away that this was something I had to try in my classroom. Our classrooms are filled with ADD children who struggle with writing things down or with even being able to focus long enough to do a 1 min. written test.

I tried this with a classroom 2 years ago & have used it ever since. I've used it two different ways.

The first way is to implement it into your math class. During small group, centers, or whole class work time you will have students working on XtraMath. How many students you have working will depend on how many computers you have. Generally I would pick the first 4 students on the list & when they finished they tapped the next student on the list. I did it this way my first year. However, I found that there were some days I couldn't get through my class list.

Last year I allowed students to do XtraMath in the morning when they completed their morning work. They did not have to ask permission, they just had to walk straight to the computer & get started. This usually meant that during math time I only had about half of the class to get through instead of the entire class.

Many students were so motivated to pass that they did XtraMath at home too. I can honestly say that this program has been the single biggest thing that has made a difference in math fact memorization in my classroom!

I encourage you to give it a try this year.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Monday Made It July 28th


Monday Made It

I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for the Monday Made it & the Primary Gal for the Blogger Boot Camp.
This hasn't been a very productive week for me. I haven't felt the best & have had some upsetting health news, so I haven't accomplished a bunch. That being said, I was still able to get a few things done.
The first thing I did was work on my husband's bulletin boards. He's moving schools & grade levels so he needed a lot of help. I created a cute back to school bulletin board outside of his room. I used the laser die cut machine to cut out football helmets on white construction paper. During the first week he's going to have students decorate and color the helmet with things about themselves. I think it will be really cute. I'll have him take a picture of it when it's all finished.

The second thing I made was a cute neon alphabet. A friend of mine is using neon colors in her classroom this year so I created this. It also matches the adorable monster nametags I made last week. It will be on sale for $1.00 on Monday.
Neon Bright multicolor rainbow dots stripes manuscript pri
Click on the picture for the alphabet.
 I made a cute sign for my homework club display. I have a cookie sheet that I have spray painted blue & have a pretty ribbon. (I don't have a picture of it yet because I'm not allowed back in my classroom yet.) Last year I used these adorable magnets I made out of glitter & gems. However, the problem I had was that the students were wiping off the numbers on the magnets. The magnets were also heavy & if they fell off they might break. So, I decided to use a smaller version of the numbers that I use for my lunch choices. Homework club was a huge success in my classroom last year. I don't actually assign busy work homework. I do however have students read their AR books 20 minutes each night & take required AR tests each week. Students must take at least 1 AR test & if they don't that counts as a missing homework assignment. At the end of each month any student who still has their number in the club get to have a VIP lunch in the room. I let them bring a drink of their choice & eat lunch in the room.

The next thing is something that is very helpful in my classroom. In the past I have used generic ones that I found in back to school books etc. I finally decided to create one that had the questions I really wanted to know to help me get to know my students better.  I send this parent survey home at Open House. It's free on my TPT store!
Back To School Parent Information Survey

I actually made this before school ended because I knew we would not be able to get into our classrooms until days before school started. I got the idea HERE.  My classroom colors are lime, aqua, with pink accents. So I decided the use those colors in paint chips for a free border.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Made It July 21st

Monday Made It

I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for the Monday Made It. Be sure to head over & see what other teachers have done!

I purchased a flip flop holder from Bed Bath & Beyond. Then I made a simple sign to attach to the top. (I don't have a home laminator & we're not allowed in our building to work until 4 days before school starts, so it's not completely finished yet.)

I spray painted a rolling storage chest for my husband's classroom. He's moving schools & grades this year. The storage bins were given to me by a friend, but were a baby blue color, so I updated it for him.

I also made an alphabet to display in his classroom. I teach 3rd grade & he's going to be teaching 2nd, so I only had to change the background of the alphabet I had made for my classroom to fit his color scheme. I put it in my TPT store on sale for $1.00 right now! (I also made him a clip chart & nametags that match this theme. They're in my store too.)
Red, grey, white glitter chevron manuscript print and curs
Click on Picture

I made some adorable monster themed editable nametags/ deskplates for my TPT store. They're on sale for $1.00 right now. 

Editable Monster Rainbow Chevron Name Plates/ Desk Plates/
Click on Picture

The final thing I made is on this blog. I didn't actually "make" anything, but I'm proud of myself anyway. I figured out how to get a side Facebook bar, a hovering Pinterest symbol over pictures, and a pop up Facebook like box. This was a big accomplishment for me. Now, the only I need to figure out how to do it to add some new fonts to my blog. The default font is too small no matter what I do to try to make it bigger & I'm not a fan of the other fonts that are on Blogger. So, that's my challenge for this week. :) 

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

It's a Linky Party! Link up & share links that have changed your life in your classroom!

The Pins That Changed My Life!

Have you ever came across a Pin on Pinterest  & wondered why on Earth you didn't think of this sooner? I have found a few pins that have made my life SO much easier as a teacher. I think it will be helpful to all of us to share these ideas so everyone can benefit! 

 photo MickeyHead1.jpg

If I had to pick 1 pin that made the biggest difference in my classroom this is it! This simple pin saved my sanity & so much wasted class time. I came across this pin 2 years ago. I'd tried everything else from checklists, folders, rewards, punishments, but nothing helped the problem of students forgetting to put their names on their papers. This always created havoc in my classroom. I'd have dishonest students who would try to claim a paper that wasn't theirs, students who wouldn't claim their own paper because it had a bad grade on it etc. It took up too much of my time. This simple pin changed my life! Now, I simply have a little bucket (Dollar Spot at Target) and the sign taped to it right beside my "Turn in Papers" tray. I instruct students 1 time what to do & that's it! They are so excited about getting to use a highlighter at first that they can't wait to do it. Later on, I find that as students go to turn it in & they don't have their name on it, they will grab a nearby pencil & write their name or write their name with a highlighter and then turn it in. Either way...I don't care because I don't have to track the owners down. in TWO years I've only had 1 no namer paper & that was when I had a substitute & she picked the papers up instead of having students turn them on. 
Reminding students to write their name! Wow! This is such a huge problem with my 3rd graders. I think this will work.
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I LOVE this pin! I am an ADD teacher, sounds distract me. I hate the sound of desks moving on the floor. Ugh! I am also very anal & I like my desks to be neat & in the specific place they are supposed to be in. I found this pin & was so excited. I've used it for several years & even the custodians at my school comment on how it has made their job easier! I went to Lowes & bought a large package of the longer Zip Ties. Once I have my desks where I want them, I zip tie the desk legs together. I keeps my U shaped arrangement looking good!

Cheap + Easy + Time-Saver = Awesome!  Zip those desks together!  This might just save me from straightening desks all day long! Why on Earth have I not thought of this in the past 17 years?

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As I mentioned, I am anal. I like things to be a certain way. I can't stand torn up crayon boxes. I don't like finding crayons on the floor or in desks either. I especially hate when we are doing a project & students have lost the specific colors we need. I found this pin last summer & it made a HUGE difference. I went to Wal-Mart and purchased 24 travel soap containers. I then wrote student numbers on the top of them in permanent marker. On the first day I had students open up their brand new crayon boxes & empty the contents in the soap holder. (24 crayons fits perfectly!) Many students were sad about throwing away their new box so I told them they could take them home if they wanted. Then I collected the boxes & they were stored in the specific groups area that also stores their scissors, glue, and dry erase markers. In January we replace old supplies. ( I ask for 2 boxes of crayons on the back to school supply list.) This is the first year that the students' crayons were actually still in good condition in January! I didn't have to throw them all away because they were broken or missing colors. Most students just took the old ones home since they were still in good condition.
All 24 crayons will fit in a soap box.


 photo MickeyHead4.jpg 

This next one I actually didn't find on Pinterest. I did an Internet search & found this website 
I then found exactly what I was looking for! Having students partner up in the classroom shouldn't be a time consuming thing! In the past I've used popsicle sticks, Partner Clocks, Partner Phones, you name it. There was always a lot of complaining & always students who "lost" their partner charts because they wanted to be able to join a group instead. It just wasted too much time. I found this random group selector & then Pinned it myself so I wouldn't forget the site. I used it in my classroom last year & LOVED it! You can pick the size of the group to fit the activity you want. So there can be groups of two, three, etc. I project it on my screen & the students get right to work. They don't complain to me because the computer generated it! If I have an odd number of students, then the odd student gets to pick a group. If I have a student absent, then their partner gets to pick a group. If I have 2 students absent then their partners automatically become partners. This has been a wonderful tool in my classroom!

 photo MickeyHead5.jpg 
This final one is one that I plan to try this year! I've used actual erasers & also socks in my classroom for erasers. However, they always end up lost or on the floor. I'm going to try this pin this year to see how it works. However, I think I'm going to try gluing the pom pom to the lid so that when the marker goes dry we can just change the lid out. I'll let you know how it works!

Hot glue Pom poms to dry erase markers. Instant eraser! Dark colors work best. :) 

Now it's your turn! Link up & share what has changed your life in your classroom!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Christmas In July!

Christmas in July!


Indiana Teaching Bloggers are having a Christmas in July Sale! Everything is just $1.00! Be sure & check it out! It starts at midnight! There are so many great deals! I can't wait to shop myself.

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Two for Tuesday

I'm linking up with The Teaching Tribune for Two for Tuesday!

Head over to check out the great deals. Each blogger that has linked up has put 2 items in their store on sale 50% for Tuesday.

The first item I put on sale is the 3rd Grade Common Core I CAN statements for math & ELA. They're only $2.88.
3rd/ third Common Core math/ Lang Arts I Can Statements bl
Click on the picture to be taken to the item in my TPT store.

The second item I put on sale are editable name tags/ desk plates. They are aqua blue & lime green. This is my favorite color combination & I've decorated my entire classroom in these colors.

Editable aqua quatrefoil lime stripe chalkboard nameplates
Click on the picture to be taken to the item in my TPT store.
These are on sale for $1.00.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Monday Made It July 14 

I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for the Monday Made It.

I've been busy this week! I've been trying to create all of the things I've put off all summer long. Summer is coming to an end & I've realized that I still have so much on my "to do" list. 

I made the CUTEST "I have Who has" game for my classroom. 3rd graders are supposed to have their multiplication facts memorized by the end of the year. In my classroom we have a "Fun Friday". On Fridays I try to play whole class games (Bingo, Around The World, Multiplication Ball, etc. ), do math craft projects, or play partner math games. Since multiplication facts are so important in 3rd grade I wanted another option to help them practice their facts while having fun. I just loved the cute Owls by Melonheadz. Check it out in my TPT store. It's on sale for $1.00!
I Have Who Has Multiplication Facts Game, Owls and neon stripe 
Click on the picture for the game.


My corporation adopted Pearson's Reading Street Common Core edition last year. Although there are many things I like about the series, there are also many things I don't like. One of my complaints is the difficulty of the spelling words. Wow! They are hard, especially the "challenge" words. I created a roll & write spelling center to be used in my classroom this coming year. My school is having a music theme next year. I decided to make my theme a 50's Rock & Roll theme. So my spelling centers have adorable 50's clip art. So far I have Units 1-4 done. Whew! Just 2 more units left to do. I've put each unit on sale for $1.00 this week.
Unit 2 Reading Street 2013 3rd Grade Common Core Roll, Rea
Click on picture

The third thing I made this week are some ADORABLE super hero nameplates/ desk plates. I had purchased this clip-art to use to make some centers. It was so cute though that I wanted to make something decorative with it. I wish my school had a super hero theme. We have 7 different themes that we rotate. I'm not sure who came up with them because we didn't actually get to vote on them when this idea originated 7 years ago. So we have some themes that I don't like such as Toads, Bees, and Stars. I'd much rather have a Hollywood theme or a Super Hero theme. But....since I can't, I decided to make these cute editable desk plates for those that can. :) They're on sale for $1.00 this week too.
Click on picture

This is one I didn't make this week, but I finally figured out how to add a Fan Freebie tab to my Facebook page. Wow! That was way harder than it needed to be. So you can get the following Freebie by clicking on the Fan Freebies Tab on my Facebook page. I created this information card to use this year in my classroom. These are so valuable. I print these on card stock & have the parents fill them out at the beginning of the year. Then I hole punch them, put them on a metal ring, & hang them on a hook by door. When we have fire drills, tornado drills, or I need to contact a parent, I have all of the information I need right there.Click on the picture to be taken to my FB page. "Like" my page & grab the freebie for yourself.
Click on the picture

I made the cutest morning work display. Actually...I made two. I made a music theme morning routine display in my classroom colors & a sports dog one for my husband in his classroom colors. I can't decide if I should make editable versions to put in my TPT store or not.

Have a great Week!

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